Meshed, messhead. Got ourselves up at 6.30 to start hassling as taxi. Unfortunately it turns out to be one of the dozy ones with no idea of taking us where we want to go nor any idea of map reading. Ultimately we got there and bought our tickets to the border (115rials). Going for tea we are offered hash which Ned accepts and I do not. The bus is mainly full of freaks but I’m sitting at the back and resting from conversation. Getting out of Iran seems relatively easy but then we need a minibus going to Heart and it takes a few hours for it to fill up. When it does so we hurry the 3 miles to the border. We’re going to exchange money when Julie spots the coach and there is Malluk walking straight towards us. Paranoia! Ned and Julie go off with him to the police while I bullshit my way through the currency declaration, all the while shitting myself. Get trough that and join the gathering. Fortunately Malluk isn’t shouting too much and we keep relatively cool. Then we go to see the Chief of Police for the area in his plush office where he is constantly saluted. We drew him away from addressing a crowd and on our best behaviour told our story. Then Malluk told his. In the balance. A judge is mentioned. I pay five dollars and hold my breath. Ned does the same. Mallak cracks, takes the money. Much relieved we head back to the uncomfortable minibus for Heart. An Afghani gets us stoned. Arrived at a hotel which is ok though I get a room with two strangers and rely on Ned and Julie to pay for me because I couldn’t change money on the border. Ate and went to bed, not knowing that Ned and Julie were getting high with some French guys. Another loony weird day.
THE DAY I GOT TO AFGHANISTAN AFTER SOME DIFFICULTY.
Friday 29th October
Actually writing this in the present tense. Off key this morning. Have checked my finances and they are not good. Also my plans and Ned and Julie’s differ so separation is on the way. The banks are closed so can’t move today. Will have to hurry through Afghanistan and Pakistan if I want to get to India. God knows how I’ll get back. At least I’ve had a hot shower and washed my hair for the first time since Switzerland. Have another cold and my head has not healed properly. Julie had a look and said it looked inflamed.. Can’t lie on the back of my head, too sore. She pulled out one of the stitches and applied some antiseptic cream.
-Early evening. Ned is playing the guitar, beautifully well while Julie sits on the bed, an excellent audience to everything and anything. Am pleasantly stoned. A jinglebelled horse gallops ringingly on the dust. What is this place? A touch of everything amazing; no conversation without an offer, maybe even a bargain for the fortunate. Stories abound, positive vibes, rediscovering release. I have sold my silver bracelet for 10 dollars. Long hassle and bartering. Like an Afghani I dropped my price suddenly at the end. The will goes and one becomes tired of the dealing. – Later. A walk around town has given me grass, entertained me and found me a job to do tomorrow, exchanging dollars at the bank for the chai shop owner, Came back and got smashed with Ned and Julie. Feel really close to them and reluctant to quit them. So it goes. Later smoked some pipes and got trashed with a Swedish guy who talked a lot of sense and taught me a lot in just a few minutes. Also told me of a place in India to aim for where the living is nice and cheap.
Went to bed with fabulous colours before my eyes. So good to be stoned. Could stay here for ages but the hoped for destination is India.
AFGHANIED IN AFGHANISTAN.
Saturday 30th October
Woke up with the intention of moving on. Ned and Julie still in bed. Went off to achieve the promised deal but the guy didn’t turn up. Sussed out a cheap and leaving soon bus & hurried back to get Ned to the bank. There I remet the magical Swedish guy and a guy from Reading I’ve met before. Got stoned and then went to the bank. Hassling over money with my bus due out didn’t help the goodbyes. Dear friends, they felt it too. The bus journey was a bit disastrous; crowded and very slow, relieved by a smoke which got me very high. Locked in bus overnight. PARTING FROM NED AND JULIE
Sunday 31st October
Bus drags on and on, arriving at Kabul at 4 in the afternoon. Time costs money in hotel and food bills and I’ve just seen a map of India that looks frighteningly large. Went for a walk & got caught in a dust-storm. Didn’t find the bus company I was looking for. Am staying at a hotel with a Canadian and a Swiss who shared doubts about the journey ahead. Got stoned, wrote letters and crashed out. IN KABUL
Monday 1st November.
As expected, can’t move on until tomorrow. 100 afghanis to Pakistan. Probably good to have these breaks but they make it all expensive. It is 28 dollars back to Tehran, 55 to Istanbul. (Which I just about have.) And I keep aiming forward. Hanging around Kabul which is a different world from Heart and nowhere near as nice. – I exchanged 5 dollars for 220 af + 20 Pak rupees. All this dealing and guessing becomes a hassle.. Now my thoughts are so far ahead of me I’m worrying about help to get back! Maybe because I’m hungry & I’m sitting in a restaurant watching people eat, the trip seems just a trip of no particular importance. Not that I’m depressed, just empty. –Have pretty well been round Kabul and it doesn’t seem much though I believe the good places are out of town. No bazaar but everything bizarre! – Have changed more money at a loss of 4 dollars. It can’t be helped. I wonder if my attitude to Kabul would be better if Ned and Julie were here. So glad now that I spent a couple of days in Heart. – Later got stoned, played cards with roommates & read some more of the Glass Bead Game. Also tried to write an off the cuff piece hoping it would reveal something. Mainly it turns out that I only write when I’m stoned. –Earlier today remet an Indian guy who invited me to his home but he lives in the cold North. Noticed that my roommates were writing copiously, describing what they have seen. Felt almost jealous of their powers of observation. Maybe they see the environment more in the foreground than I do. I see it as a weird backdrop to whatever else is happening and though I get off on the beautiful or horrific views I can’t think how to describe them out of the context of me. That’s egotism. THE DAY I DEALT ON THE BLACKMARKET.
Tuesday 2nd November
It almost hurts! It does hurt. Have spent the daylight hours of today sat nice and close to a really beautiful French girl, Christine. A flash here, an eye there, a little laugh maybe and I’m planning our future together. The scenery surpasses itself as we leave Afghanistan & I’m chewing hash to avoid border hassles. And then I get through the border with no problems. Into Pakistan. Getting so near to India, maybe even get there tomorrow. Felt very inclined to stay with the French to give time for my sweet romance to develop but on arriving in Peshawar I discover that a night-train goes to Lahore and I should take it. I turn to part with Christine but can’t see her. At the station now, apparently the only westerner with a third class ticket. No one else can face it but I have to. –My hearing has been strange since my ears popped going over the Khyber pass. When it speaks it sounds as if I’m under water.
-Well the journey was worse than forewarned. Was crushed upon the floor by numerous chattering and fighting Pakistanis and only coped by having fantasies about Christine as the unbelievably long night dragged on. CHRISTINE, THE ANTI-PAKASTANI WEAPON.
Wednesday 3rd November
Short shrift to Pakistan. Charged out of Lahore to the border where I was fucked-up over the currency declaration and lost a 100 rupees (about £10). Still have blocked ears and now a streaming nose and cold. Not a healthy way to reach a new country.
But India is breached! As I staggered in I had the sudden realization that this may be the beginning of the hard work. Made my way to the Golden Temple and I’ll be here for a day or two. This is an amazing place & a great start to the Indian part of the journey. Am back on the pilgrimage. Went for a walk in the dirty sidestreets. The people are friendly and funny. Then after a few chapattis, more tea and a couple of bananas I went into the temple itself. Uplifting for sure. Then I went to look for the free kitchen and ended-up making chapattis, piling them up as my offer of thanks. Was given a meal there but it was much too hot to enjoy. Came back and crashed out in the courtyard to end a quite amazing day.
MAKING CHAPATTIS AT THE GOLDEN TEMPLE.
Thursday 4th November.
My flow inhibited by a crap biro. Is halfway through a day that began at 6 with two delights; 1) my ear was better, 2) I was lying next to a girl who turned me on something rotten. I’ve spent the day with the girl (a German with very little English) and her boyfriend (as I thought). Wandering around the temple and teahouses. It is a crazy place. In this mood t all makes me laugh, so mad, so dirty. The kids are beautiful, actually beautiful and great to watch playing. Anyway, on to the subplot. The girl and I seem to be aiming for the same area both with christian work in mind though it is difficult to tell with the language problems. Maybe we’ll travel together although finances and subplans might rule the possibility out. Just thinking of my Tarot reading that implied good luck with the female principle but collapse of the main plan. Well my plan is to ask the Yogananda people for work and to write to Adrian and my parents to send me money. Will see how it goes. –At the moment sitting here waiting for my clothes to dry & I feel happy and amused and aware of a cosmic joke. This absurd place with this absurd pilgrim, well, it’s laughable. God is on posters, the guru has street named after him, the golden temple is the home of some of the scruffiest, dirtiest and most diseased people in the world. It is beautiful, it is funny. – Now nighttime in this chai permeated place. Have been back to the temple, this time with Christine and Fripp (?). Rolled chapatis & actually finished my dish of dahl. The three of us then went into the temple beneath the filling moon, ideal for meditation though my concentration lacks a lot. If I travel with Christine I must be careful not to be diverted from my real intentions but she seems a pure being so I guess I’ll not have too much temptation. – Is now very very late. I should be sleeping but I’m caught in a crosscurrent of excitement. First, there’s India, which is mind-blowing. If this is what it is like I’ll be happy. Then there’s Christine… All night couldn’t sleep.
THE DAY I SAW INDIA AS A COSMIC JOKE.
Friday 5th November
First thing down to the railway station, 21 rupees to Delhi. Buy our tickets and spend the rest of the day drifting and waiting. Interrogated by Sikhs in a café who wanted to know Caroline’s sexual habits. I don’t know, I wish I did. So I sit on this train very curious and prone to fantasize and maybe just a little aware that I have genuine responsibilities to an 18-year-old girl travelling companion, however tough she may be. Is quite difficult with so little shared language. –Have just discovered that the post office will be closed tomorrow which could alter our arrangements. –She plays the guitar and sings a few gentle songs & then I watch her face when sleeping and of course I fall in love again.
FALLING IN LOVE AGAIN.
Saturday 6th November
Isn’t life strange, a turn of the page..certainly for those of us who laugh a lot in love and in love move through the days obsessed by love & the partings of love. Maybe for me love is a fantasy, chasing the lady in a blue shawl or satisfied with nothing less than the full moon. So gently, gently, gently, and I will sacrifice anything for the warm sensation, the burning temptation of a hand held in mine to guide and be guided. But of course if the cosmic joke exists it must turn on the self and the self must laugh at itself to find a woman, to share a hotel room with her only to find she’s halfway to being a nun!
Would go for a walk to see Delhi but Christine is unwell and anti-Delhi anyway so we hang out in the hotel room which is ok except for my desire. Anyway tomorrow we embark on a 24 hour train journey so the more rest the better. I suppose, reluctantly suppose, that it will be good to deposit Christine & then continue to Ranchi before I become even more immersed in this imaginary romance. –Thinking of money again, of writing home to Adrian or my parents to ask for 50 dollars going home money but Tehran-Delhi is a minimum 80 dollars so maybe I’m back with going to the embassy and having debts when I return home.
Finally we go for an evening walk. In a café w meet some children of god, one of whom asks, ‘what are you planning to do in your life?’ I shake my head helplessly. Later Christine says ‘I am happy but I do not know the reason’. Really one can not and should not ask for more. –At the moment I’m laying on the bed with Christine who is sitting in her underpants and shirt playing a 2 rupee recorder & between us lies the Indian hotel manager who is obviously totally out of his head. It seems that he wants to sleep with me. Is this the kind of situation that one has travelled abroad to experience? Apparently.
Is the guru’s birthday. Fireworks in the street, my very own guy fawks day. NOW A GURU’S BIRTHDAY
Sunday 7th November
Endurance time on the Delhi-Hizaribagh Road express. 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. Then we disembarked in the middle of nowhere and slept on a table outside the railway station. ON THE TRAIN AGAIN.
Monday 8th November
Terrible day. Terrible. Neil Young singing in my head, ‘helpless, helpless.’ Don’t feel like writing about it. Emotionally, physically, & spiritually exhausting, weakening, depressing. Christine goes with a handshake. Yeah, fight back some tears when upright on an endless busride to Ranchi. Tired, sick. Drag myself to the man of god and the man of god says no. So, the Tarot is justified. Sit in Yogananda’s ashram, sick and unhappy. Really down, down, down. Not eating. Went to the railway station to find somewhere to crash. Money problems too, just dollars, no rupees. Am close to panic and full of fear. Overwhelmed with nervous exhaustion but falling asleep saves me from total collapse. THE COLLAPSING TOWER.
Tuesday 9th November
I wake-up with a little more energy but I’m dead depressed and it is only seven in the morning. Am looking for a bank, fearing they won’t change dollars. Have discovered that I am covered by little red spots. Doesn’t help, doesn’t help. Plan in mind is to go to Bombay, first writing home for more money. If I get it I’ll go to Goa, otherwise surrender myself to the embassy. – Now 1.40 in the afternoon. I’m on the far side of town having walked maybe 2 or 3 miles, drinking much tea to keep me going. Have eaten four oranges. Have spent all day going to the bank and back. Have recovered some strength, the result of writing to Steve and Calla and of meeting a good man of Islam who told me straight, ‘follow the rules of god and the rules of your true nature.’ No guru could have told me more. Was later called over by a market man who made me sit beside him and then gave me a chillum to smoke.
-Back to plans. To get to Bombay I must get a bus to Gaya & that passes through Hazaribagh. I will break my journey there and check out Christine’s trip. Hopefully she’s had a better time than me. I asked Adrian to send me some money but maybe it isn’t important because all I meant to do was get to Bombay; Goa is extra and not necessary. Is about 6 or 7 now, back at the railway station, to a dinner of a roll, four tiny bananas and another orange. My market-seller gave me 3 waternuts to eat which were interesting and well, tasteless.
-Tomorrow I set off. Just to Hazaribagh (I think). Has been no time for resting nor any place to rest. Have decided to leave my gold ring with the statue of Yogananda. For what purpose I know not; trying to buy my way to heaven?
Wednesday 10th November
Get up at 6. Been awake for hours. Feel flushed, bitten and battered with no clue as to why I am doing this (sleeping on railway stations). For 10 rupees I could have had a hotel room. Tonight I’ll take one. More red spots. I’m calling them fly bites because there’s another to worry me as it is. Bombay will do me. Time is immeasurable, the rest is sight-seeing, holidaying. These last few days – or is only really two – have been struggle, struggle and it isn’t spiritual, it is me being mean with the money. This ‘cold’ & cough have now settled in, claiming the left side of my body as their own. Difficulty in breathing and coughing causes a chain reaction.
Go to visit the Yogananda ashram and meet with an Australian who like me was turned away and told to go to Los Angeles but unlike me he’s on his way. I give the ring to Yogananda who still does not smile. Go to the bus station & spent much time drinking feverishly and feeling weak. Takes a long time to even investigate the bus.
When I do I’m grateful to discover I have a seat. The fever continues but the cool air helps. Got off the bus and was promptly assailed by a man who took this book and wrote a proof of god in the back of it. Nervously got the rickshaw to the convent, wondering how Christine would receive me. Turned out she’d already been sent away to do work for the mission. The Mother Superior came out to talk to me and invited me for coffee, in fact coffee, bread, cheese!! And jam. I told her some of my story. Realized as I sat there that I was definitely ill. The convent was sparkling clean and the gardens beautiful. Next the Mother Superior invited me for dinner and then to stay the night. I took myself to the chapel for rest and peace. Later the nuns filed in and sat in silence for half an hour before a service began in English (although most of the nuns were Indian). When they began to sing it was truly beautiful.
The dinner was of chicken & chips –a bit much - & water which I trusted to drink because it was served with love. Was joined by a Swiss nun & gradually I told her the real basis to this journey. Again it helped me to adjust to the idea of reaching Bombay then flying home. In fact I look forward to it. I don’t think I will wait for Adrian’s money because that was not part of the original deal. Also realizing that economizing in India is stupidity not nobility. Have seen a mirror and my face is poxed with mosquito bites, the result of sleeping at Ranchi railway station.
I told the nuns of my illness & they gave me pills. Realized that some of the stomach pains I’ve been having are hunger pains.
Was driven by rickshaw, under a lovely sky, to the compound where my bed was. Went to bed with a mosquito net, ill but full of gratitude.
THE BEAUTIFUL SISTERS OF SAINT FRANCIS.
Thursday 11th November
9.30. Awoke early again and couldn’t go back to sleep though tiredness and a high temperature remain. Hurt less than I did. Went to convent, had boiled egg, toast, butter and jam for breakfast. Did not, could not, stuff myself. Am invited to lunch and then I have to go. Have walked into town for a chai. Still weak with new headaches. Don’t know whether to stop off in Benares or not. It is reputedly a physically challenging place and I doubt my health is up to it. Probably depends on train timetables and stuff like that.
-Reluctantly left and got the bus to Gaya. On the bus the time passed quickly and I began to feel better. My mind went to Bombay and then made all its way back to Oxford. When I got off the bus my temperature had dropped and going home seemed less appealing.
-The railway people say that I’ll have to wake a week for the Bombay train. Decide to go to Benares but that’s a 7-hour journey tomorrow so I took a hotel room where the mosquitoes bit more.
DEPARTING THE SISTERS OF MERCY.
Friday 12th November
Discover from my book that I’m not far away from where the Buddha got enlightened. Seems more sensible to go there for a few days than to go to bustling Benares. My thought now is to reserve my seat on the Bombay express and to go to BuddGaya -Have now bought the Bombay ticket, 70 rupees. Have seen my face again, destroyed by pox marks. Vanity screams. Hope these aren’t permanent. Weighed myself, 10 st 5; about right. This morning had my breakfast bought by Punjabis.
-Have made my trip to Buddgaya. Transformation. Was lying on my bed in a dorm very tired having just arrived at the hotel. Midday hot. Was seeming a bit weird then some Japanese guys turned me on. And on. Got so very high. Dropped the incredible load I’ve been carrying. Saw a girl’s eyes transmitting stars across the room. The wall takes the shape of a crucifix and a figure almost appeals. Then went for a walk, incredible sky, amazing sounds and sights. And the Indians too are fascinating. Then into a Thai Buddhist temple. Buddha was there! Have never seen such beauty – electric, vibrating with gold light on a dark blue background. Buddha was there, a living presence. And going into the temple was like entering the magick theatre at the cost of your mind. At each bay window were signs with short sayings on expressing home truths. Superb, superb, superb. Had to go because people were coming in.
Later. At night looked at the stars, remembered the song, have you seen the stars tonight? Wrote a couple of letters then went to bed. Coughed non-stop for an hour or more.
THE DAY I SAW THE BUDDHA.
Saturday 13th November
Up at 6 a.m. Nothing much of a day. Slowly got my washing done. Ate well. In the evening found the Tibetan teahouse. Bought sandals and had my trousers fixed. Bought prayer beads for Steve and Calla and some cream for my mosquito bites. Visited the temples. Without the smoke of yesterday, not so staggered.
Almost a food trip going with the Tibetan pancakes. Just a walk around doing nothing day. The Tibetans have begun a weeklong prayer week by the Bodhi tree where Buddha was enlightened. Joined in at times during the day. In the evening they had drums and trumpets and made a crazy sound. Went to bed very early trying to keep two visions in mind though they are already fading. 1) Came when pondering the desire to be desireless. Saw the total ‘I’ as a giant house, everything included, and the moving steps were stilled for a moment. 2) the Buddha the right way around combined with the Buddha upside down produces a nil-point which is like a pancake rolling on its side. DRIFING AROUND BODH-GAYA.
Monday 15th November
Woke-up with a bad headache after a long long sleep. Will go and have some Tibetan porridge for breakfast. – A gentle day. Had a smoke in the afternoon and went to visit the temples but they were closed. Send happy postcards to Steve and Calla and Jade. Later went for a meditation lesson at the spact Japanese temple. Was great at first, gongs, bells, drums and chanting in the candlelight. The lesson was interesting though of course I had trouble concentrating. Interesting to see the Zen way, Think I’d like to go to Japan one day. Had some food followed by a good clear sleep.
JAPANESE ZEN MEDITATION.
Just spending the day in an easy way, getting a little stoned, eating pancakes & waiting for my train. Will be back in England soon with a head full of travel plans for the future. But how could I ever leave England and not see Jade? - Buy a couple of novels to read on the train. My mood is good. LEAVING THE BUDDHAS
Wednesday 17th November
MOSTLY ASLEEP ON THE BOMBAY MAIL.
Thursday 18th November
Have arrived in Bombay! Been here an hour and already embroiled in a doubtful adventure. Amazing that I’ve arrived at my destination. Later will go to the cathedral and seek out the cardinal. –Now nearer the goal but not with ease. First a man I met told me about an ashram outside Bombay which sounds worth following up, then he took me to the money-exchanger and then he tried to sell me blow, even bringing a sample along. Much later he demands payment for his services. (No post for me at the post office.) The ashram idea is interesting. Maybe I won’t have to go back to England next week after all? Anyway the sample wrecked me. Got out of the taxi near the cathedral out of my mind. Couldn’t cross the road. Maybe for an hour or two I was totally incapable of handling the situation, utterly overwhelmed by the noises of the city which are magnified in my brain. Got to the cathedral where I freaked again, head lifting off. Sat in meditation position, felt the power rocking my body, fighting the knots which jerk my body and stop me flying off. Left the cathedral to wait for the right finding the cardinal mood. Am still very stoned and spaced. Maybe not the right time. –Went in anyway but given a 90 minute respite through the unavailability of a priest. Eating more food, trying to bring myself round. Suddenly realize the difficulty of the situation. Asking to see a cardinal must involve all sorts of protocols and hierarchical sifting out. Thing is, I don’t know how important this is. Guess I must persevere with all my energy.